Lindau furiously interrupted: "Yes, when they have gathered their millions together from the hunger and cold and nakedness and ruin and despair of hundreds of thousands of other men, they 'give work' to the poor! They give work! They allow their helpless brothers to earn enough to keep life in them! They give work! Who is it gives toil, and where will your rich men be when once the poor shall refuse to give toil'? Why, you have come to give me work!"
March laughed outright. "Well, I'm not a millionaire, anyway, Lindau, and I hope you won't make an example of me by refusing to give toil. I dare say the millionaires deserve it, but I'd rather they wouldn't suffer in my person."
"No," returned the old man, mildly relaxing the fierce glare he had bent upon March. "No man deserves to sufer at the hands of another. I lose myself when I think of the injustice in the world. But I must not forget that I am like the worst of them."
"You might go up Fifth Avenue and live among the rich awhile, when you're in danger of that," suggested March. "At any rate," he added, by an impulse which he knew he could not justify to his wife, "I wish you'd come some day and lunch with their emissary. I've been telling Mrs. March about you, and I want her and the children to see you. Come over with these things and report." He put his hand on the magazines as he rose.
"I will come," said Lindau, gently.
"Shall I give you your book?" asked March.
"No; I gidt oap bretty soon."
"And—and—can you dress yourself?"
"I vhistle, 'and one of those lidtle fellowss comess. We haf to dake gare of one another in a blace like this. Idt iss nodt like the worldt," said Lindau, gloomily.
March thought he ought to cheer him up. "Oh, it isn't such a bad world, Lindau! After all, the average of millionaires is small in it." He added, "And I don't believe there's an American living that could look at that arm of yours and not wish to lend you a hand for the one you gave us all." March felt this to be a fine turn, and his voice trembled slightly in saying it.
Lindau smiled grimly. "You think zo? I wouldn't moch like to drost 'em. I've driedt idt too often." He began to speak German again fiercely: "Besides, they owe me nothing. Do you think I knowingly gave my hand to save this oligarchy of traders and tricksters, this aristocracy of railroad wreckers and stock gamblers and mine-slave drivers and mill-serf owners? No; I gave it to the slave; the slave—ha! ha! ha!—whom I helped to unshackle to the common liberty of hunger and cold. And you think I would be the beneficiary of such a state of things?"
"I'm sorry to hear you talk so, Lindau," said March; "very sorry." He stopped with a look of pain, and rose to go. Lindau suddenly broke into a laugh and into English.
"Oh, well, it is only dalk, Passil, and it toes me goodt. My parg is worse than my pidte, I cuess. I pring these things roundt bretty soon. Good-bye, Passil, my tear poy. Auf wiedersehen!"
March went away thinking of what Lindau had said, but not for the impersonal significance of his words so much as for the light they cast upon Lindau himself. He thought the words violent enough, but in connection with what he remembered of the cheery, poetic, hopeful idealist, they were even more curious than lamentable. In his own life of comfortable reverie he had never heard any one talk so before, but he had read something of the kind now and then in blatant labor newspapers which he had accidentally fallen in with, and once at a strikers' meeting he had heard rich people denounced with the same frenzy. He had made his own reflections upon the tastelessness of the rhetoric, and the obvious buncombe of the motive, and he had not taken the matter seriously.
He could not doubt Lindau's sincerity, and he wondered how he came to that way of thinking. From his experience of himself he accounted for a prevailing literary quality in it; he decided it to be from Lindau's reading and feeling rather than his reflection. That was the notion he formed of some things he had met with in Ruskin to much the same effect; he regarded them with amusement as the chimeras of a rhetorician run away with by his phrases.
But as to Lindau, the chief thing in his mind was a conception of the droll irony of a situation in which so fervid a hater of millionaires should be working, indirectly at least, for the prosperity of a man like Dryfoos, who, as March understood, had got his money together out of every gambler's chance in speculation, and all a schemer's thrift from the error and need of others. The situation was not more incongruous, however, than all the rest of the 'Every Other Week' affair. It seemed to him that there were no crazy fortuities that had not tended to its existence, and as time went on, and the day drew near for the issue of the first number, the sense of this intensified till the whole lost at moments the quality of a waking fact, and came to be rather a fantastic fiction of sleep.
Yet the heterogeneous forces did co-operate to a reality which March could not deny, at least in their presence, and the first number was representative of all their nebulous intentions in a tangible form. As a result, it was so respectable that March began to respect these intentions, began to respect himself for combining and embodying them in the volume which appealed to him with a novel fascination, when the first advance copy was laid upon his desk. Every detail of it was tiresomely familiar already, but the whole had a fresh interest now. He now saw how extremely fit and effective Miss Leighton's decorative design for the cover was, printed in black and brick-red on the delicate gray tone of the paper. It was at once attractive and refined, and he credited Beaton with quite all he merited in working it over to the actual shape. The touch and the taste of the art editor were present throughout the number. As Fulkerson said, Beaton had caught on with the delicacy of a humming- bird and the tenacity of a bulldog to the virtues of their illustrative process, and had worked it for all it was worth. There were seven papers in the number, and a poem on the last page of the cover, and he had found some graphic comment for each. It was a larger proportion than would afterward be allowed, but for once in a way it was allowed. Fulkerson said they could not expect to get their money back on that first number, anyway. Seven of the illustrations were Beaton's; two or three he got from practised hands; the rest were the work of unknown people which he had suggested, and then related and adapted with unfailing ingenuity to the different papers. He handled the illustrations with such sympathy as not to destroy their individual quality, and that indefinable charm which comes from good amateur work in whatever art. He rescued them from their weaknesses and errors, while he left in them the evidence of the pleasure with which a clever young man, or a sensitive girl, or a refined woman had done them. Inevitably from his manipulation, however, the art of the number acquired homogeneity, and there was nothing casual in its appearance. The result, March eagerly owned, was better than the literary result, and he foresaw that the number would be sold and praised chiefly for its pictures. Yet he was not ashamed of the literature, and he indulged his admiration of it the more freely because he had not only not written it, but in a way had not edited it. To be sure, he had chosen all the material, but he had not voluntarily put it all together for that number; it had largely put itself together, as every number of every magazine does, and as it seems more and more to do, in the experience of every editor. There had to be, of course, a story, and then a sketch of travel. There was a literary essay and a social essay; there was a dramatic trifle, very gay, very light; there was a dashing criticism on the new pictures, the new plays, the new books, the new fashions; and then there was the translation of a bit of vivid Russian realism, which the editor owed to Lindau's exploration of the foreign periodicals left with him; Lindau was himself a romanticist of the Victor Hugo sort, but he said this fragment of Dostoyevski was good of its kind. The poem was a bit of society verse, with a backward look into simpler and wholesomer experiences.
Fulkerson was extremely proud of the number; but he said it was too good —too good from every point of view. The cover was too good, and the paper was too good, and that device of rough edges, which got over the objection to uncut leaves while it secured their aesthetic effect, was a thing that he trembled for, though he rejoiced in it as a stroke of the highest genius. It had come from Beaton at the last moment, as a compromise, when the problem of the vulgar croppiness of cut leaves and the unpopularity of uncut leaves seemed to have no solution but suicide. Fulkerson was still morally crawling round on his hands and knees, as he said, in abject gratitude at Beaton's feet, though he had his qualms, his questions; and he declared that Beaton was the most inspired ass since Balaam's. "We're all asses, of course," he admitted, in semi-apology to March; "but we're no such asses as Beaton." He said that if the tasteful decorativeness of the thing did not kill it with the public outright, its literary excellence would give it the finishing stroke. Perhaps that might be overlooked in the impression of novelty which a first number would give, but it must never happen again. He implored March to promise that it should never happen again; be said their only hope was in the immediate cheapening of the whole affair. It was bad enough to give the public too much quantity for their money, but to throw in such quality as that was simply ruinous; it must be stopped. These were the expressions of his intimate moods; every front that he presented to the public wore a glow of lofty, of devout exultation. His pride in the number gushed out in fresh bursts of rhetoric to every one whom he could get to talk with him about it. He worked the personal kindliness of the press to the utmost. He did not mind making himself ridiculous or becoming a joke in the good cause, as he called it. He joined in the applause when a humorist at the club feigned to drop dead from his chair at Fulkerson's introduction of the topic, and he went on talking that first number into the surviving spectators. He stood treat upon all occasions, and he lunched attaches of the press at all hours. He especially befriended the correspondents of the newspapers of other cities, for, as he explained to March, those fellows could give him any amount of advertising simply as literary gossip. Many of the fellows were ladies who could not be so summarily asked out to lunch, but Fulkerson's ingenuity was equal to every exigency, and he contrived somehow to make each of these feel that she had been possessed of exclusive information. There was a moment when March conjectured a willingness in Fulkerson to work Mrs. March into the advertising department, by means of a tea to these ladies and their friends which she should administer in his apartment, but he did not encourage Fulkerson to be explicit, and the moment passed. Afterward, when he told his wife about it, he was astonished to find that she would not have minded doing it for Fulkerson, and he experienced another proof of the bluntness of the feminine instincts in some directions, and of the personal favor which Fulkerson seemed to enjoy with the whole sex. This alone was enough to account for the willingness of these correspondents to write about the first number, but March accused him of sending it to their addresses with boxes of Jacqueminot roses and Huyler candy.
Fulkerson let him enjoy his joke. He said that he would do that or anything else for the good cause, short of marrying the whole circle of female correspondents.
March was inclined to hope that if the first number had been made too good for the country at large, the more enlightened taste of metropolitan journalism would invite a compensating favor for it in New York. But first Fulkerson and then the event proved him wrong. In spite of the quality of the magazine, and in spite of the kindness which so many newspaper men felt for Fulkerson, the notices in the New York papers seemed grudging and provisional to the ardor of the editor. A merit in the work was acknowledged, and certain defects in it for which March had trembled were ignored; but the critics astonished him by selecting for censure points which he was either proud of or had never noticed; which being now brought to his notice he still could not feel were faults. He owned to Fulkerson that if they had said so and so against it, he could have agreed with them, but that to say thus and so was preposterous; and that if the advertising had not been adjusted with such generous recognition of the claims of the different papers, he should have known the counting-room was at the bottom of it. As it was, he could only attribute it to perversity or stupidity. It was certainly stupid to condemn a magazine novelty like 'Every Other Week' for being novel; and to augur that if it failed, it would fail through its departure from the lines on which all the other prosperous magazines had been built, was in the last degree perverse, and it looked malicious. The fact that it was neither exactly a book nor a magazine ought to be for it and not against it, since it would invade no other field; it would prosper on no ground but its own.
The more March thought of the injustice of the New York press (which had not, however, attacked the literary quality of the number) the more bitterly he resented it; and his wife's indignation superheated his own. 'Every Other Week' had become a very personal affair with the whole family; the children shared their parents' disgust; Belle was outspoken in, her denunciations of a venal press. Mrs. March saw nothing but ruin ahead, and began tacitly to plan a retreat to Boston, and an establishment retrenched to the basis of two thousand a year. She shed some secret tears in anticipation of the privations which this must involve; but when Fulkerson came to see March rather late the night of the publication day, she nobly told him that if the worst came to the worst she could only have the kindliest feeling toward him, and should not regard him as in the slightest degree responsible.
"Oh, hold on, hold on!" he protested. "You don't think we've made a failure, do you?"
"Why, of course," she faltered, while March remained gloomily silent.
"Well, I guess we'll wait for the official count, first. Even New York hasn't gone against us, and I guess there's a majority coming down to Harlem River that could sweep everything before it, anyway."
"What do you mean, Fulkerson?" March demanded, sternly.
"Oh, nothing! Only, the 'News Company' has ordered ten thousand now; and you know we had to give them the first twenty on commission."
"What do you mean?" March repeated; his wife held her breath.
"I mean that the first number is a booming success already, and that it's going to a hundred thousand before it stops. That unanimity and variety of censure in the morning papers, combined with the attractiveness of the thing itself, has cleared every stand in the city, and now if the favor of the country press doesn't turn the tide against us, our fortune's made." The Marches remained dumb. "Why, look here! Didn't I tell you those criticisms would be the making of us, when they first began to turn you blue this morning, March?"
"He came home to lunch perfectly sick," said Mrs. Marcli; "and I wouldn't let him go back again."
"Didn't I tell you so?" Fulkerson persisted.
March could not remember that he had, or that he had been anything but incoherently and hysterically jocose over the papers, but he said, "Yes, yes—I think so."
"I knew it from the start," said Fulkerson. "The only other person who took those criticisms in the right spirit was Mother Dryfoos—I've just been bolstering up the Dryfoos family. She had them read to her by Mrs. Mandel, and she understood them to be all the most flattering prophecies of success. Well, I didn't read between the lines to that extent, quite; but I saw that they were going to help us, if there was anything in us, more than anything that could have been done. And there was something in us! I tell you, March, that seven-shooting self-cocking donkey of a Beaton has given us the greatest start! He's caught on like a mouse. He's made the thing awfully chic; it's jimmy; there's lots of dog about it. He's managed that process so that the illustrations look as expensive as first-class wood-cuts, and they're cheaper than chromos. He's put style into the whole thing."
"Oh yes," said March, with eager meekness, "it's Beaton that's done it."
Fulkerson read jealousy of Beaton in Mrs. March's face. "Beaton has given us the start because his work appeals to the eye. There's no denying that the pictures have sold this first number; but I expect the literature of this first number to sell the pictures of the second. I've been reading it all over, nearly, since I found how the cat was jumping; I was anxious about it, and I tell you, old man, it's good. Yes, sir! I was afraid maybe you had got it too good, with that Boston refinement of yours; but I reckon you haven't. I'll risk it. I don't see how you got so much variety into so few things, and all of them palpitant, all of 'em on the keen jump with actuality."
The mixture of American slang with the jargon of European criticism in Fulkerson's talk made March smile, but his wife did not seem to notice it in her exultation. "That is just what I say," she broke in. "It's perfectly wonderful. I never was anxious about it a moment, except, as you say, Mr. Fulkerson, I was afraid it might be too good."
They went on in an antiphony of praise till March said: "Really, I don't see what's left me but to strike for higher wages. I perceive that I'm indispensable."
"Why, old man, you're coming in on the divvy, you know," said Fulkerson.
They both laughed, and when Fulkerson was gone, Mrs. March asked her husband what a divvy was.
"It's a chicken before it's hatched."
He explained, and she began to spend the divvy.
At Mrs. Leighton's Fulkerson gave Alma all the honor of the success; he told her mother that the girl's design for the cover had sold every number, and Mrs. Leighton believed him.
"Well, Ah think Ah maght have some of the glory," Miss Woodburn pouted. "Where am Ah comin' in?"
"You're coming in on the cover of the next number," said Fulkerson." We're going to have your face there; Miss Leighton's going to sketch it in." He said this reckless of the fact that he had already shown them the design of the second number, which was Beaton's weird bit of gas- country landscape.
"Ah don't see why you don't wrahte the fiction for your magazine, Mr. Fulkerson," said the girl.
This served to remind Fulkerson of something. He turned to her father. "I'll tell you what, Colonel Woodburn, I want Mr. March to see some chapters of that book of yours. I've been talking to him about it."
"I do not think it would add to the popularity of your periodical, sir," said the Colonel, with a stately pleasure in being asked. "My views of a civilization based upon responsible slavery would hardly be acceptable to your commercialized society."
"Well, not as a practical thing, of course," Fulkerson admitted. "But as something retrospective, speculative, I believe it would make a hit. There's so much going on now about social questions; I guess people would like to read it."
"I do not know that my work is intended to amuse people," said the Colonel, with some state.
"Mah goodness! Ah only wish it WAS, then," said his daughter; and she added: "Yes, Mr. Fulkerson, the Colonel will be very glad to submit po'tions of his woak to yo' edito'. We want to have some of the honaw. Perhaps we can say we helped to stop yo' magazine, if we didn't help to stawt it."
They all laughed at her boldness, and Fulkerson said: "It 'll take a good deal more than that to stop 'Every Other Week'. The Colonel's whole book couldn't do it." Then he looked unhappy, for Colonel Woodburn did not seem to enjoy his reassuring words; but Miss Woodburn came to his rescue. "You maght illustrate it with the po'trait of the awthoris daughtaw, if it's too late for the covah."
"Going to have that in every number, Miss Woodburn!" he cried.
"Oh, mah goodness!" she said, with mock humility.
Alma sat looking at her piquant head, black, unconsciously outlined against the lamp, as she sat working by the table. "Just keep still a moment!"
She got her sketch-block and pencils, and began to draw; Fulkerson tilted himself forward and looked over her shoulder; he smiled outwardly; inwardly he was divided between admiration of Miss Woodburn's arch beauty and appreciation of the skill which reproduced it; at the same time he was trying to remember whether March had authorized him to go so far as to ask for a sight of Colonel Woodburn's manuscript. He felt that he had trenched upon March's province, and he framed one apology to the editor for bringing him the manuscript, and another to the author for bringing it back.
"Most Ah hold raght still like it was a photograph?" asked Miss Woodburn. "Can Ah toak?"
"Talk all you want," said Alma, squinting her eyes. "And you needn't be either adamantine, nor yet—wooden."
"Oh, ho' very good of you! Well, if Ah can toak—go on, Mr. Fulkerson!"
"Me talk? I can't breathe till this thing is done!" sighed Fulkerson; at that point of his mental drama the Colonel was behaving rustily about the return of his manuscript, and he felt that he was looking his last on Miss Woodburn's profile.
"Is she getting it raght?" asked the girl.
"I don't know which is which," said Fulkerson.
"Oh, Ah hope Ah shall! Ah don't want to go round feelin' like a sheet of papah half the time."
"You could rattle on, just the same," suggested Alma.
"Oh, now! Jost listen to that, Mr. Fulkerson. Do you call that any way to toak to people?"
"You might know which you were by the color," Fulkerson began, and then be broke off from the personal consideration with a business inspiration, and smacked himself on the knee, "We could print it in color!"
Mrs. Leighton gathered up her sewing and held it with both hands in her lap, while she came round, and looked critically at the sketch and the model over her glasses. "It's very good, Alma," she said.
Colonel Woodburn remained restively on his side of the table. "Of course, Mr. Fulkerson, you were jesting, sir, when you spoke of printing a sketch of my daughter."
"Why, I don't know—If you object—?
"I do, sir—decidedly," said the Colonel.
"Then that settles it, of course,—I only meant—"
"Indeed it doesn't!" cried the girl. "Who's to know who it's from? Ah'm jost set on havin' it printed! Ah'm going to appear as the head of Slavery—in opposition to the head of Liberty."
"There'll be a revolution inside of forty-eight hours, and we'll have the Colonel's system going wherever a copy of 'Every Other Week' circulates," said Fulkerson.
"This sketch belongs to me," Alma interposed. "I'm not going to let it be printed."
"Oh, mah goodness!" said Miss Woodburn, laughing good-humoredly. "That's becose you were brought up to hate slavery."
"I should like Mr. Beaton to see it," said Mrs. Leighton, in a sort of absent tone. She added, to Fulkerson: "I rather expected he might be in to-night."
"Well, if he comes we'll leave it to Beaton," Fulkerson said, with relief in the solution, and an anxious glance at the Colonel, across the table, to see how he took that form of the joke. Miss Woodburn intercepted his glance and laughed, and Fulkerson laughed, too, but rather forlornly.
Alma set her lips primly and turned her head first on one side and then on the other to look at the sketch. "I don't think we'll leave it to Mr. Beaton, even if he comes."
"We left the other design for the cover to Beaton," Fulkerson insinuated. "I guess you needn't be afraid of him."
"Is it a question of my being afraid?" Alma asked; she seemed coolly intent on her drawing.
"Miss Leighton thinks he ought to be afraid of her," Miss Woodburn explained.
"It's a question of his courage, then?" said Alma.
"Well, I don't think there are many young ladies that Beaton's afraid of," said Fulkerson, giving himself the respite of this purely random remark, while he interrogated the faces of Mrs. Leighton and Colonel Woodburn for some light upon the tendency of their daughters' words.
He was not helped by Mrs. Leighton's saying, with a certain anxiety, "I don't know what you mean, Mr. Fulkerson."
"Well, you're as much in the dark as I am myself, then," said Fulkerson. "I suppose I meant that Beaton is rather—a—favorite, you know. The women like him."
Mrs. Leighton sighed, and Colonel Woodburn rose and left the room.
In the silence that followed, Fulkerson looked from one lady to the other with dismay. "I seem to have put my foot in it, somehow," he suggested, and Miss Woodburn gave a cry of laughter.
"Poo' Mr. Fulkerson! Poo' Mr. Fulkerson! Papa thoat you wanted him to go."
"Wanted him to go?" repeated Fulkerson.
"We always mention Mr. Beaton when we want to get rid of papa."
"Well, it seems to me that I have noticed that he didn't take much interest in Beaton, as a general topic. But I don't know that I ever saw it drive him out of the room before!"
"Well, he isn't always so bad," said Miss Woodburn. "But it was a case of hate at first sight, and it seems to be growin' on papa."
"Well, I can understand that," said Fulkerson. "The impulse to destroy Beaton is something that everybody has to struggle against at the start."
"I must say, Mr. Fulkerson," said Mrs. Leighton, in the tremor through which she nerved herself to differ openly with any one she liked, "I never had to struggle with anything of the kind, in regard to Mr. Beaton. He has always been most respectful and—and—considerate, with me, whatever he has been with others."
"Well, of course, Mrs. Leighton!" Fulkerson came back in a soothing tone. "But you see you're the rule that proves the exception. I was speaking of the way men felt about Beaton. It's different with ladies; I just said so."
"Is it always different?" Alma asked, lifting her head and her hand from her drawing, and staring at it absently.
Fulkerson pushed both his hands through his whiskers. "Look here! Look here!" he said. "Won't somebody start some other subject? We haven't had the weather up yet, have we? Or the opera? What is the matter with a few remarks about politics?"
"Why, Ah thoat you lahked to toak about the staff of yo' magazine," said Miss Woodburn.
"Oh, I do!" said Fulkerson. "But not always about the same member of it. He gets monotonous, when he doesn't get complicated. I've just come round from the Marches'," he added, to Mrs. Leighton.
"I suppose they've got thoroughly settled in their apartment by this time." Mrs. Leighton said something like this whenever the Marches were mentioned. At the bottom of her heart she had not forgiven them for not taking her rooms; she had liked their looks so much; and she was always hoping that they were uncomfortable or dissatisfied; she could not help wanting them punished a little.
"Well, yes; as much as they ever will be," Fulkerson answered. "The Boston style is pretty different, you know; and the Marches are old- fashioned folks, and I reckon they never went in much for bric-a-brac They've put away nine or ten barrels of dragon candlesticks, but they keep finding new ones."
"Their landlady has just joined our class," said Alma. "Isn't her name Green? She happened to see my copy of 'Every Other Week', and said she knew the editor; and told me."
"Well, it's a little world," said Fulkerson. "You seem to be touching elbows with everybody. Just think of your having had our head translator for a model."
"Ah think that your whole publication revolves aroand the Leighton family," said Miss Woodburn.
"That's pretty much so," Fulkerson admitted. "Anyhow, the publisher seems disposed to do so."
"Are you the publisher? I thought it was Mr. Dryfoos," said Alma.
The tone and the word gave Fulkerson a discomfort which he promptly confessed. "Missed again."
The girls laughed, and he regained something of his lost spirits, and smiled upon their gayety, which lasted beyond any apparent reason for it.
Miss Woodburn asked, "And is Mr. Dryfoos senio' anything like ouah Mr. Dryfoos?"
"Not the least."
"But he's jost as exemplary?"
"Yes; in his way."
"Well, Ah wish Ah could see all those pinks of puffection togethah, once."
"Why, look here! I've been thinking I'd celebrate a little, when the old gentleman gets back. Have a little supper—something of that kind. How would you like to let me have your parlors for it, Mrs. Leighton? You ladies could stand on the stairs, and have a peep at us, in the bunch."
"Oh, mah! What a privilege! And will Miss Alma be there, with the othah contributors? Ah shall jost expah of envy!"
"She won't be there in person," said Fulkerson, "but she'll be represented by the head of the art department."
"Mah goodness! And who'll the head of the publishing department represent?"
"He can represent you," said Alma.
"Well, Ah want to be represented, someho'."
"We'll have the banquet the night before you appear on the cover of our fourth number," said Fulkerson.
"Ah thoat that was doubly fo'bidden," said Miss Woodburn. "By the stern parent and the envious awtust."
"We'll get Beaton to get round them, somehow. I guess we can trust him to manage that."
Mrs. Leighton sighed her resentment of the implication.
"I always feel that Mr. Beaton doesn't do himself justice," she began.
Fulkerson could not forego the chance of a joke. "Well, maybe he would rather temper justice with mercy in a case like his." This made both the younger ladies laugh. "I judge this is my chance to get off with my life," he added, and he rose as he spoke. "Mrs. Leighton, I am about the only man of my sex who doesn't thirst for Beaton's blood most of the time. But I know him and I don't. He's more kinds of a good fellow than people generally understand. He doesn't wear his heart upon his sleeve- not his ulster sleeve, anyway. You can always count me on your side when it's a question of finding Beaton not guilty if he'll leave the State."
Alma set her drawing against the wall, in rising to say goodnight to Fulkerson. He bent over on his stick to look at it. "Well, it's beautiful," he sighed, with unconscious sincerity.
Alma made him a courtesy of mock modesty. "Thanks to Miss Woodburn!"
"Oh no! All she had to do was simply to stay put."
"Don't you think Ah might have improved it if Ah had, looked better?" the girl asked, gravely.
"Oh, you couldn't!" said Fulkerson, and he went off triumphant in their applause and their cries of "Which? which?"
Mrs. Leighton sank deep into an accusing gloom when at last she found herself alone with her daughter. "I don't know what you are thinking about, Alma Leighton. If you don't like Mr. Beaton—"
"You don't? You know better than that. You know that, you did care for him."
"Oh! that's a very different thing. That's a thing that can be got over."
"Got over!" repeated Mrs. Leighton, aghast.
"Of course, it can! Don't be romantic, mamma. People get over dozens of such fancies. They even marry for love two or three times."
"Never!" cried her mother, doing her best to feel shocked; and at last looking it.
Her looking it had no effect upon Alma. "You can easily get over caring for people; but you can't get over liking them—if you like them because they are sweet and good. That's what lasts. I was a simple goose, and he imposed upon me because he was a sophisticated goose. Now the case is reversed."
"He does care for you, now. You can see it. Why do you encourage him to come here?"
"I don't," said Alma. "I will tell him to keep away if you like. But whether he comes or goes, it will be the same."
"Not to him, Alma! He is in love with you!"
"He has never said so."
"And you would really let him say so, when you intend to refuse him?"
"I can't very well refuse him till he does say so."
This was undeniable. Mrs. Leighton could only demand, in an awful tone, "May I ask why—if you cared for him; and I know you care for him still you will refuse him?"
Alma laughed. "Because—because I'm wedded to my Art, and I'm not going to commit bigamy, whatever I do."
"Well, then, because I don't like him—that is, I don't believe in him, and don't trust him. He's fascinating, but he's false and he's fickle. He can't help it, I dare say."
"And you are perfectly hard. Is it possible that you were actually pleased to have Mr. Fulkerson tease you about Mr. Dryfoos?"
"Oh, good-night, now, mamma! This is becoming personal"
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Artists never do anything like other people Ballast of her instinctive despondency Clinging persistence of such natures Dividend: It's a chicken before it's hatched Gayety, which lasted beyond any apparent reason for it Hopeful recklessness How much can a man honestly earn without wronging or oppressing I cannot endure this—this hopefulness of yours If you dread harm enough it is less likely to happen It must be your despair that helps you to bear up Marry for love two or three times No man deserves to sufer at the hands of another Patience with mediocrity putting on the style of genius Person talks about taking lessons, as if they could learn it Say when he is gone that the woman gets along better without him Shouldn't ca' fo' the disgrace of bein' poo'—its inconvenience Timidity of the elder in the presence of the younger man
A HAZARD OF NEW FORTUNES
By William Dean Howells
The scheme of a banquet to celebrate the initial success of 'Every Other Week' expanded in Fulkerson's fancy into a series. Instead of the publishing and editorial force, with certain of the more representative artists and authors sitting down to a modest supper in Mrs. Leighton's parlors, he conceived of a dinner at Delmonico's, with the principal literary and artistic, people throughout the country as guests, and an inexhaustible hospitality to reporters and correspondents, from whom paragraphs, prophetic and historic, would flow weeks before and after the first of the series. He said the thing was a new departure in magazines; it amounted to something in literature as radical as the American Revolution in politics: it was the idea of self government in the arts; and it was this idea that had never yet been fully developed in regard to it. That was what must be done in the speeches at the dinner, and the speeches must be reported. Then it would go like wildfire. He asked March whether he thought Mr. Depew could be got to come; Mark Twain, he was sure, would come; he was a literary man. They ought to invite Mr. Evarts, and the Cardinal and the leading Protestant divines. His ambition stopped at nothing, nothing but the question of expense; there he had to wait the return of the elder Dryfoos from the West, and Dryfoos was still delayed at Moffitt, and Fulkerson openly confessed that he was afraid he would stay there till his own enthusiasm escaped in other activities, other plans.
Fulkerson was as little likely as possible to fall under a superstitious subjection to another man; but March could not help seeing that in this possible measure Dryfoos was Fulkerson's fetish. He did not revere him, March decided, because it was not in Fulkerson's nature to revere anything; he could like and dislike, but he could not respect. Apparently, however, Dryfoos daunted him somehow; and besides the homage which those who have not pay to those who have, Fulkerson rendered Dryfoos the tribute of a feeling which March could only define as a sort of bewilderment. As well as March could make out, this feeling was evoked by the spectacle of Dryfoos's unfailing luck, which Fulkerson was fond of dazzling himself with. It perfectly consisted with a keen sense of whatever was sordid and selfish in a man on whom his career must have had its inevitable effect. He liked to philosophize the case with March, to recall Dryfoos as he was when he first met him still somewhat in the sap, at Moffitt, and to study the processes by which he imagined him to have dried into the hardened speculator, without even the pretence to any advantage but his own in his ventures. He was aware of painting the character too vividly, and he warned March not to accept it exactly in those tints, but to subdue them and shade it for himself. He said that where his advantage was not concerned, there was ever so much good in Dryfoos, and that if in some things be had grown inflexible, he had expanded in others to the full measure of the vast scale on which he did business. It had seemed a little odd to March that a man should put money into such an enterprise as 'Every Other Week' and go off about other affairs, not only without any sign of anxiety, but without any sort of interest. But Fulkerson said that was the splendid side of Dryfoos. He had a courage, a magnanimity, that was equal to the strain of any such uncertainty. He had faced the music once for all, when he asked Fulkerson what the thing would cost in the different degrees of potential failure; and then he had gone off, leaving everything to Fulkerson and the younger Dryfoos, with the instruction simply to go ahead and not bother him about it. Fulkerson called that pretty tall for an old fellow who used to bewail the want of pigs and chickens to occupy his mind. He alleged it as another proof of the versatility of the American mind, and of the grandeur of institutions and opportunities that let every man grow to his full size, so that any man in America could run the concern if necessary. He believed that old Dryfoos could step into Bismarck's shoes and run the German Empire at ten days' notice, or about as long as it would take him to go from New York to Berlin. But Bismarck would not know anything about Dryfoos's plans till Dryfoos got ready to show his hand. Fulkerson himself did not pretend to say what the old man had been up to since he went West. He was at Moffitt first, and then he was at Chicago, and then he had gone out to Denver to look after some mines he had out there, and a railroad or two; and now he was at Moffitt again. He was supposed to be closing up his affairs there, but nobody could say.
Fulkerson told March the morning after Dryfoos returned that he had not only not pulled out at Moffitt, but had gone in deeper, ten times deeper than ever. He was in a royal good-humor, Fulkerson reported, and was going to drop into the office on his way up from the Street (March understood Wall Street) that afternoon. He was tickled to death with 'Every Other Week' so far as it had gone, and was anxious to pay his respects to the editor.
March accounted for some rhetoric in this, but let it flatter him, and prepared himself for a meeting about which he could see that Fulkerson was only less nervous than he had shown himself about the public reception of the first number. It gave March a disagreeable feeling of being owned and of being about to be inspected by his proprietor; but he fell back upon such independence as he could find in the thought of those two thousand dollars of income beyond the caprice of his owner, and maintained an outward serenity.
He was a little ashamed afterward of the resolution it had cost him to do so. It was not a question of Dryfoos's physical presence: that was rather effective than otherwise, and carried a suggestion of moneyed indifference to convention in the gray business suit of provincial cut, and the low, wide-brimmed hat of flexible black felt. He had a stick with an old-fashioned top of buckhorn worn smooth and bright by the palm of his hand, which had not lost its character in fat, and which had a history of former work in its enlarged knuckles, though it was now as soft as March's, and must once have been small even for a man of Mr. Dryfoos's stature; he was below the average size. But what struck March was the fact that Dryfoos seemed furtively conscious of being a country person, and of being aware that in their meeting he was to be tried by other tests than those which would have availed him as a shrewd speculator. He evidently had some curiosity about March, as the first of his kind whom he bad encountered; some such curiosity as the country school trustee feels and tries to hide in the presence of the new schoolmaster. But the whole affair was, of course, on a higher plane; on one side Dryfoos was much more a man of the world than March was, and he probably divined this at once, and rested himself upon the fact in a measure. It seemed to be his preference that his son should introduce them, for he came upstairs with Conrad, and they had fairly made acquaintance before Fulkerson joined them.
Conrad offered to leave them at once, but his father made him stay. "I reckon Mr. March and I haven't got anything so private to talk about that we want to keep it from the other partners. Well, Mr. March, are you getting used to New York yet? It takes a little time."
"Oh yes. But not so much time as most places. Everybody belongs more or less in New York; nobody has to belong here altogether."
"Yes, that is so. You can try it, and go away if you don't like it a good deal easier than you could from a smaller place. Wouldn't make so much talk, would it?" He glanced at March with a jocose light in his shrewd eyes. "That is the way I feel about it all the time: just visiting. Now, it wouldn't be that way in Boston, I reckon?"
"You couldn't keep on visiting there your whole life," said March.
Dryfoos laughed, showing his lower teeth in a way that was at once simple and fierce. "Mr. Fulkerson didn't hardly know as he could get you to leave. I suppose you got used to it there. I never been in your city."
"I had got used to it; but it was hardly my city, except by marriage. My wife's a Bostonian."
"She's been a little homesick here, then," said Dryfoos, with a smile of the same quality as his laugh.
"Less than I expected," said March. "Of course, she was very much attached to our old home."
"I guess my wife won't ever get used to New York," said Dryfoos, and he drew in his lower lip with a sharp sigh. "But my girls like it; they're young. You never been out our way yet, Mr. March? Out West?"
"Well, only for the purpose of being born, and brought up. I used to live in Crawfordsville, and then Indianapolis."
"Indianapolis is bound to be a great place," said Dryfoos. "I remember now, Mr. Fulkerson told me you was from our State." He went on to brag of the West, as if March were an Easterner and had to be convinced. "You ought to see all that country. It's a great country."
"Oh yes," said March, "I understand that." He expected the praise of the great West to lead up to some comment on 'Every Other Week'; and there was abundant suggestion of that topic in the manuscripts, proofs of letter-press and illustrations, with advance copies of the latest number strewn over his table.
But Dryfoos apparently kept himself from looking at these things. He rolled his head about on his shoulders to take in the character of the room, and said to his son, "You didn't change the woodwork, after all."
"No; the architect thought we had better let it be, unless we meant to change the whole place. He liked its being old-fashioned."
"I hope you feel comfortable here, Mr. March," the old man said, bringing his eyes to bear upon him again after their tour of inspection.
"Too comfortable for a working-man," said March, and he thought that this remark must bring them to some talk about his work, but the proprietor only smiled again.
"I guess I sha'n't lose much on this house," he returned, as if musing aloud. "This down-town property is coming up. Business is getting in on all these side streets. I thought I paid a pretty good price for it, too." He went on to talk of real estate, and March began to feel a certain resentment at his continued avoidance of the only topic in which they could really have a common interest. "You live down this way somewhere, don't you?" the old man concluded.
"Yes. I wished to be near my work." March was vexed with himself for having recurred to it; but afterward he was not sure but Dryfoos shared his own diffidence in the matter, and was waiting for him to bring it openly into the talk. At times he seemed wary and masterful, and then March felt that he was being examined and tested; at others so simple that March might well have fancied that he needed encouragement, and desired it. He talked of his wife and daughters in a way that invited March to say friendly things of his family, which appeared to give the old man first an undue pleasure and then a final distrust. At moments he turned, with an effect of finding relief in it, to his son and spoke to him across March of matters which he was unacquainted with; he did not seem aware that this was rude, but the young man must have felt it so; he always brought the conversation back, and once at some cost to himself when his father made it personal.
"I want to make a regular New York business man out of that fellow," he said to March, pointing at Conrad with his stick. "You s'pose I'm ever going to do it?"
"Well, I don't know," said March, trying to fall in with the joke. "Do you mean nothing but a business man?"
The old man laughed at whatever latent meaning he fancied in this, and said: "You think he would be a little too much for me there? Well, I've seen enough of 'em to know it don't always take a large pattern of a man to do a large business. But I want him to get the business training, and then if he wants to go into something else he knows what the world is, anyway. Heigh?"
"Oh yes!" March assented, with some compassion for the young man reddening patiently under his father's comment.
Dryfoos went on as if his son were not in hearing. "Now that boy wanted to be a preacher. What does a preacher know about the world he preaches against when he's been brought up a preacher? He don't know so much as a bad little boy in his Sunday-school; he knows about as much as a girl. I always told him, You be a man first, and then you be a preacher, if you want to. Heigh?"
"Precisely." March began to feel some compassion for himself in being witness of the young fellow's discomfort under his father's homily.
"When we first come to New York, I told him, Now here's your chance to see the world on a big scale. You know already what work and saving and steady habits and sense will bring a man, to; you don't want to go round among the rich; you want to go among the poor, and see what laziness and drink and dishonesty and foolishness will bring men to. And I guess he knows, about as well as anybody; and if he ever goes to preaching he'll know what he's preaching about." The old man smiled his fierce, simple smile, and in his sharp eyes March fancied contempt of the ambition he had balked in his son. The present scene must have been one of many between them, ending in meek submission on the part of the young man, whom his father, perhaps without realizing his cruelty, treated as a child. March took it hard that he should be made to suffer in the presence of a co-ordinate power like himself, and began to dislike the old man out of proportion to his offence, which might have been mere want of taste, or an effect of mere embarrassment before him. But evidently, whatever rebellion his daughters had carried through against him, he had kept his dominion over this gentle spirit unbroken. March did not choose to make any response, but to let him continue, if he would, entirely upon his own impulse.
A silence followed, of rather painful length. It was broken by the cheery voice of Fulkerson, sent before him to herald Fulkerson's cheery person. "Well, I suppose you've got the glorious success of 'Every Other Week' down pretty cold in your talk by this time. I should have been up sooner to join you, but I was nipping a man for the last page of the cover. I guess we'll have to let the Muse have that for an advertisement instead of a poem the next time, March. Well, the old gentleman given you boys your scolding?" The person of Fulkerson had got into the room long before he reached this question, and had planted itself astride a chair. Fulkerson looked over the chairback, now at March, and now at the elder Dryfoos as he spoke.
March answered him. "I guess we must have been waiting for you, Fulkerson. At any rate, we hadn't got to the scolding yet."
"Why, I didn't suppose Mr. Dryfoos could 'a' held in so long. I understood he was awful mad at the way the thing started off, and wanted to give you a piece of his mind, when he got at you. I inferred as much from a remark that he made." March and Dryfoos looked foolish, as men do when made the subject of this sort of merry misrepresentation.
"I reckon my scolding will keep awhile yet," said the old man, dryly.
"Well, then, I guess it's a good chance to give Mr. Dryfoos an idea of what we've really done—just while we're resting, as Artemus Ward says. Heigh, March?"
"I will let you blow the trumpet, Fulkerson. I think it belongs strictly to the advertising department," said March. He now distinctly resented the old man's failure to say anything to him of the magazine; he made his inference that it was from a suspicion of his readiness to presume upon a recognition of his share in the success, and he was determined to second no sort of appeal for it.
"The advertising department is the heart and soul of every business," said Fulkerson, hardily, "and I like to keep my hand in with a little practise on the trumpet in private. I don't believe Mr. Dryfoos has got any idea of the extent of this thing. He's been out among those Rackensackens, where we were all born, and he's read the notices in their seven by nine dailies, and he's seen the thing selling on the cars, and he thinks he appreciates what's been done. But I should just like to take him round in this little old metropolis awhile, and show him 'Every Other Week' on the centre tables of the millionaires—the Vanderbilts and the Astors—and in the homes of culture and refinement everywhere, and let him judge for himself. It's the talk of the clubs and the dinner- tables; children cry for it; it's the Castoria of literature and the Pearline of art, the 'Won't-be-happy-till-he-gets-it of every en lightened man, woman, and child in this vast city. I knew we could capture the country; but, my goodness! I didn't expect to have New York fall into our hands at a blow. But that's just exactly what New York has done. Every Other Week supplies the long-felt want that's been grinding round in New York and keeping it awake nights ever since the war. It's the culmination of all the high and ennobling ideals of the past."
"How much," asked Dryfoos, "do you expect to get out of it the first year, if it keeps the start it's got?"
"Comes right down to business, every time!" said Fulkerson, referring the characteristic to March with a delighted glance. "Well, sir, if everything works right, and we get rain enough to fill up the springs, and it isn't a grasshopper year, I expect to clear above all expenses something in the neighborhood of twenty-five thousand dollars."
"Humph! And you are all going to work a year—editor, manager, publisher, artists, writers, printers, and the rest of 'em—to clear twenty-five thousand dollars?—I made that much in half a day in Moffitt once. I see it made in half a minute in Wall Street, sometimes." The old man presented this aspect of the case with a good-natured contempt, which included Fulkerson and his enthusiasm in an obvious liking.
His son suggested, "But when we make that money here, no one loses it."
"Can you prove that?" His father turned sharply upon him. "Whatever is won is lost. It's all a game; it don't make any difference what you bet on. Business is business, and a business man takes his risks with his eyes open."
"Ah, but the glory!" Fulkerson insinuated with impudent persiflage. "I hadn't got to the glory yet, because it's hard to estimate it; but put the glory at the lowest figure, Mr. Dryfoos, and add it to the twenty- five thousand, and you've got an annual income from 'Every Other Week' of dollars enough to construct a silver railroad, double-track, from this office to the moon. I don't mention any of the sister planets because I like to keep within bounds."
Dryfoos showed his lower teeth for pleasure in Fulkerson's fooling, and said, "That's what I like about you, Mr. Fulkerson—you always keep within bounds."
"Well, I ain't a shrinking Boston violet, like March, here. More sunflower in my style of diffidence; but I am modest, I don't deny it," said Fulkerson. "And I do hate to have a thing overstated."
"And the glory—you do really think there's something in the glory that pays?"
"Not a doubt of it! I shouldn't care for the paltry return in money," said Fulkerson, with a burlesque of generous disdain, "if it wasn't for the glory along with it."
"And how should you feel about the glory, if there was no money along with it?"
"Well, sir, I'm happy to say we haven't come to that yet."
"Now, Conrad, here," said the old man, with a sort of pathetic rancor, "would rather have the glory alone. I believe he don't even care much for your kind of glory, either, Mr. Fulkerson."
Fulkerson ran his little eyes curiously over Conrad's face and then March's, as if searching for a trace there of something gone before which would enable him to reach Dryfoos's whole meaning. He apparently resolved to launch himself upon conjecture. "Oh, well, we know how Conrad feels about the things of this world, anyway. I should like to take 'em on the plane of another sphere, too, sometimes; but I noticed a good while ago that this was the world I was born into, and so I made up my mind that I would do pretty much what I saw the rest of the folks doing here below. And I can't see but what Conrad runs the thing on business principles in his department, and I guess you'll find it so if you look into it. I consider that we're a whole team and big dog under the wagon with you to draw on for supplies, and March, here, at the head of the literary business, and Conrad in the counting-room, and me to do the heavy lying in the advertising part. Oh, and Beaton, of course, in the art. I 'most forgot Beaton—Hamlet with Hamlet left out."
Dryfoos looked across at his son. "Wasn't that the fellow's name that was there last night?"
"Yes," said Conrad.
The old man rose. "Well, I reckon I got to be going. You ready to go up-town, Conrad?"
"Well, not quite yet, father."
The old man shook hands with March, and went downstairs, followed by his son.
"He didn't jump at the chance you gave him to compliment us all round, Fulkerson," said March, with a smile not wholly of pleasure.
Fulkerson asked, with as little joy in the grin he had on, "Didn't he say anything to you before I came in?"
"Not a word."
"Dogged if I know what to make of it," sighed Fulkerson, "but I guess he's been having a talk with Conrad that's soured on him. I reckon maybe he came back expecting to find that boy reconciled to the glory of this world, and Conrad's showed himself just as set against it as ever."
"It might have been that," March admitted, pensively. "I fancied something of the kind myself from words the old man let drop."
Fulkerson made him explain, and then he said:
"That's it, then; and it's all right. Conrad 'll come round in time; and all we've got to do is to have patience with the old man till he does. I know he likes you." Fulkerson affirmed this only interrogatively, and looked so anxiously to March for corroboration that March laughed.
"He dissembled his love," he said; but afterward, in describing to his wife his interview with Mr. Dryfoos, he was less amused with this fact.
When she saw that he was a little cast down by it, she began to encourage him. "He's just a common, ignorant man, and probably didn't know how to express himself. You may be perfectly sure that he's delighted with the success of the magazine, and that he understands as well as you do that he owes it all to you."
"Ah, I'm not so sure. I don't believe a man's any better for having made money so easily and rapidly as Dryfoos has done, and I doubt if he's any wiser. I don't know just the point he's reached in his evolution from grub to beetle, but I do know that so far as it's gone the process must have involved a bewildering change of ideals and criterions. I guess he's come to despise a great many things that he once respected, and that intellectual ability is among them—what we call intellectual ability. He must have undergone a moral deterioration, an atrophy of the generous instincts, and I don't see why it shouldn't have reached his mental make- up. He has sharpened, but he has narrowed; his sagacity has turned into suspicion, his caution to meanness, his courage to ferocity. That's the way I philosophize a man of Dryfoos's experience, and I am not very proud when I realize that such a man and his experience are the ideal and ambition of most Americans. I rather think they came pretty near being mine, once."
"No, dear, they never did," his wife protested.
"Well, they're not likely to be in the future. The Dryfoos feature of 'Every Other Week' is thoroughly distasteful to me."
"Why, but he hasn't really got anything to do with it, has he, beyond furnishing the money?"
"That's the impression that Fulkerson has allowed us to get. But the man that holds the purse holds the reins. He may let us guide the horse, but when he likes he can drive. If we don't like his driving, then we can get down."
Mrs. March was less interested in this figure of speech than in the personal aspects involved. "Then you think Mr. Fulkerson has deceived you?"
"Oh no!" said her husband, laughing. "But I think he has deceived himself, perhaps."
"How?" she pursued.
"He may have thought he was using Dryfoos, when Dryfoos was using him, and he may have supposed he was not afraid of him when he was very much so. His courage hadn't been put to the test, and courage is a matter of proof, like proficiency on the fiddle, you know: you can't tell whether you've got it till you try."
"Nonsense! Do you mean that he would ever sacrifice you to Mr. Dryfoos?"
"I hope he may not be tempted. But I'd rather be taking the chances with Fulkerson alone than with Fulkerson and Dryfoos to back him. Dryfoos seems, somehow, to take the poetry and the pleasure out of the thing."
Mrs. March was a long time silent. Then she began, "Well, my dear, I never wanted to come to New York—"
"Neither did I," March promptly put in.
"But now that we're here," she went on, "I'm not going to have you letting every little thing discourage you. I don't see what there was in Mr. Dryfoos's manner to give you any anxiety. He's just a common, stupid, inarticulate country person, and he didn't know how to express himself, as I said in the beginning, and that's the reason he didn't say anything."
"Well, I don't deny you're right about it."
"It's dreadful," his wife continued, "to be mixed up with such a man and his family, but I don't believe he'll ever meddle with your management, and, till he does, all you need do is to have as little to do with him as possible, and go quietly on your own way."
"Oh, I shall go on quietly enough," said March. "I hope I sha'n't begin going stealthily."
"Well, my dear," said Mrs. March, "just let me know when you're tempted to do that. If ever you sacrifice the smallest grain of your honesty or your self-respect to Mr. Dryfoos, or anybody else, I will simply renounce you."
"In view of that I'm rather glad the management of 'Every Other Week' involves tastes and not convictions," said March.
That night Dryfoos was wakened from his after-dinner nap by the sound of gay talk and nervous giggling in the drawing-room. The talk, which was Christine's, and the giggling, which was Mela's, were intershot with the heavier tones of a man's voice; and Dryfoos lay awhile on the leathern lounge in his library, trying to make out whether he knew the voice. His wife sat in a deep chair before the fire, with her eyes on his face, waiting for him to wake.
"Who is that out there?" he asked, without opening his eyes.
"Indeed, indeed, I don't know, Jacob," his wife answered. "I reckon it's just some visitor of the girls'."
"Was I snoring?"
"Not a bit. You was sleeping as quiet! I did hate to have 'em wake you, and I was just goin' out to shoo them. They've been playin' something, and that made them laugh."
"I didn't know but I had snored," said the old man, sitting up.
"No," said his wife. Then she asked, wistfully, "Was you out at the old place, Jacob?"
"Did it look natural?"
"Yes; mostly. They're sinking the wells down in the woods pasture."
"And—the children's graves?"
"They haven't touched that part. But I reckon we got to have 'em moved to the cemetery. I bought a lot."
The old woman began softly to weep. "It does seem too hard that they can't be let to rest in peace, pore little things. I wanted you and me to lay there, too, when our time come, Jacob. Just there, back o' the beehives and under them shoomakes—my, I can see the very place! And I don't believe I'll ever feel at home anywheres else. I woon't know where I am when the trumpet sounds. I have to think before I can tell where the east is in New York; and what if I should git faced the wrong way when I raise? Jacob, I wonder you could sell it!" Her head shook, and the firelight shone on her tears as she searched the folds of her dress for her pocket.
A peal of laughter came from the drawing-room, and then the sound of chords struck on the piano.
"Hush! Don't you cry, 'Liz'beth!" said Dryfoos. "Here; take my handkerchief. I've got a nice lot in the cemetery, and I'm goin' to have a monument, with two lambs on it—like the one you always liked so much. It ain't the fashion, any more, to have family buryin' grounds; they're collectin' 'em into the cemeteries, all round."
"I reckon I got to bear it," said his wife, muffling her face in his handkerchief. "And I suppose the Lord kin find me, wherever I am. But I always did want to lay just there. You mind how we used to go out and set there, after milkin', and watch the sun go down, and talk about where their angels was, and try to figger it out?"
"I remember, 'Liz'beth."
The man's voice in the drawing-room sang a snatch of French song, insolent, mocking, salient; and then Christine's attempted the same strain, and another cry of laughter from Mela followed.
"Well, I always did expect to lay there. But I reckon it's all right. It won't be a great while, now, anyway. Jacob, I don't believe I'm a- goin' to live very long. I know it don't agree with me here."
"Oh, I guess it does, 'Liz'beth. You're just a little pulled down with the weather. It's coming spring, and you feel it; but the doctor says you're all right. I stopped in, on the way up, and he says so."
"I reckon he don't know everything," the old woman persisted: "I've been runnin' down ever since we left Moffitt, and I didn't feel any too well there, even. It's a very strange thing, Jacob, that the richer you git, the less you ain't able to stay where you want to, dead or alive."
"It's for the children we do it," said Dryfoos. "We got to give them their chance in the world."
"Oh, the world! They ought to bear the yoke in their youth, like we done. I know it's what Coonrod would like to do."
Dryfoos got upon his feet. "If Coonrod 'll mind his own business, and do what I want him to, he'll have yoke enough to bear." He moved from his wife, without further effort to comfort her, and pottered heavily out into the dining-room. Beyond its obscurity stretched the glitter of the deep drawing-room. His feet, in their broad; flat slippers, made no sound on the dense carpet, and he came unseen upon the little group there near the piano. Mela perched upon the stool with her back to the keys, and Beaton bent over Christine, who sat with a banjo in her lap, letting him take her hands and put them in the right place on the instrument. Her face was radiant with happiness, and Mela was watching her with foolish, unselfish pleasure in her bliss.
There was nothing wrong in the affair to a man of Dryfoos's traditions and perceptions, and if it had been at home in the farm sitting-room, or even in his parlor at Moffitt, he would not have minded a young man's placing his daughter's hands on a banjo, or even holding them there; it would have seemed a proper, attention from him if he was courting her. But here, in such a house as this, with the daughter of a man who had made as much money as he had, he did not know but it was a liberty. He felt the angry doubt of it which beset him in regard to so many experiences of his changed life; he wanted to show his sense of it, if it was a liberty, but he did not know how, and he did not know that it was so. Besides, he could not help a touch of the pleasure in Christine's happiness which Mela showed; and he would have gone back to the library, if he could, without being discovered.
But Beaton had seen him, and Dryfoos, with a nonchalant nod to the young man, came forward. "What you got there, Christine?"
"A banjo," said the girl, blushing in her father's presence.
Mela gurgled. "Mr. Beaton is learnun' her the first position."
Beaton was not embarrassed. He was in evening dress, and his face, pointed with its brown beard, showed extremely handsome above the expanse of his broad, white shirt-front. He gave back as nonchalant a nod as he had got, and, without further greeting to Dryfoos, he said to Christine: "No, no. You must keep your hand and arm so." He held them in position. "There! Now strike with your right hand. See?"
"I don't believe I can ever learn," said the girl, with a fond upward look at him.
"Oh yes, you can," said Beaton.
They both ignored Dryfoos in the little play of protests which followed, and he said, half jocosely, half suspiciously, "And is the banjo the fashion, now?" He remembered it as the emblem of low-down show business, and associated it with end-men and blackened faces and grotesque shirt- collars.
"It's all the rage," Mela shouted, in answer for all. "Everybody plays it. Mr. Beaton borrowed this from a lady friend of his."
"Humph! Pity I got you a piano, then," said Dryfoos. "A banjo would have been cheaper."
Beaton so far admitted him to the conversation as to seem reminded of the piano by his mentioning it. He said to Mela, "Oh, won't you just strike those chords?" and as Mela wheeled about and beat the keys he took the banjo from Christine and sat down with it. "This way!" He strummed it, and murmured the tune Dryfoos had heard him singing from the library, while he kept his beautiful eyes floating on Christine's. "You try that, now; it's very simple."
"Where is Mrs. Mandel?" Dryfoos demanded, trying to assert himself.
Neither of the girls seemed to have heard him at first in the chatter they broke into over what Beaton proposed. Then Mela said, absently, "Oh, she had to go out to see one of her friends that's sick," and she struck the piano keys. "Come; try it, Chris!"
Dryfoos turned about unheeded and went back to the library. He would have liked to put Beaton out of his house, and in his heart he burned against him as a contumacious hand; he would have liked to discharge him from the art department of 'Every Other Week' at once. But he was aware of not having treated Beaton with much ceremony, and if the young man had returned his behavior in kind, with an electrical response to his own feeling, had he any right to complain? After all, there was no harm in his teaching Christine the banjo.
His wife still sat looking into the fire. "I can't see," she said, "as we've got a bit more comfort of our lives, Jacob, because we've got such piles and piles of money. I wisht to gracious we was back on the farm this minute. I wisht you had held out ag'inst the childern about sellin' it; 'twould 'a' bin the best thing fur 'em, I say. I believe in my soul they'll git spoiled here in New York. I kin see a change in 'em a'ready—in the girls."
Dryfoos stretched himself on the lounge again. "I can't see as Coonrod is much comfort, either. Why ain't he here with his sisters? What does all that work of his on the East Side amount to? It seems as if he done it to cross me, as much as anything." Dryfoos complained to his wife on the basis of mere affectional habit, which in married life often survives the sense of intellectual equality. He did not expect her to reason with him, but there was help in her listening, and though she could only soothe his fretfulness with soft answers which were often wide of the purpose, he still went to her for solace. "Here, I've gone into this newspaper business, or whatever it is, on his account, and he don't seem any more satisfied than ever. I can see he hain't got his heart in it."
"The pore boy tries; I know he does, Jacob; and he wants to please you. But he give up a good deal when he give up bein' a preacher; I s'pose we ought to remember that."
"A preacher!" sneered Dryfoos. "I reckon bein' a preacher wouldn't satisfy him now. He had the impudence to tell me this afternoon that he would like to be a priest; and he threw it up to me that he never could be because I'd kept him from studyin'."
"He don't mean a Catholic priest—not a Roman one, Jacob," the old woman explained, wistfully. "He's told me all about it. They ain't the kind o' Catholics we been used to; some sort of 'Piscopalians; and they do a heap o' good amongst the poor folks over there. He says we ain't got any idea how folks lives in them tenement houses, hundreds of 'em in one house, and whole families in a room; and it burns in his heart to help 'em like them Fathers, as be calls 'em, that gives their lives to it. He can't be a Father, he says, because he can't git the eddication now; but he can be a Brother; and I can't find a word to say ag'inst it, when it gits to talkin', Jacob."
"I ain't saying anything against his priests, 'Liz'beth," said Dryfoos. "They're all well enough in their way; they've given up their lives to it, and it's a matter of business with them, like any other. But what I'm talking about now is Coonrod. I don't object to his doin' all the charity he wants to, and the Lord knows I've never been stingy with him about it. He might have all the money he wants, to give round any way he pleases."
"That's what I told him once, but he says money ain't the thing—or not the only thing you got to give to them poor folks. You got to give your time and your knowledge and your love—I don't know what all you got to give yourself, if you expect to help 'em. That's what Coonrod says."
"Well, I can tell him that charity begins at home," said Dryfoos, sitting up in his impatience. "And he'd better give himself to us a little—to his old father and mother. And his sisters. What's he doin' goin' off there to his meetings, and I don't know what all, an' leavin' them here alone?"
"Why, ain't Mr. Beaton with 'em?" asked the old woman. "I thought I heared his voice."
"Mr. Beaton! Of course he is! And who's Mr. Beaton, anyway?"
"Why, ain't he one of the men in Coonrod's office? I thought I heared—"
"Yes, he is! But who is he? What's he doing round here? Is he makin' up to Christine?"
"I reckon he is. From Mely's talk, she's about crazy over the fellow. Don't you like him, Jacob?"
"I don't know him, or what he is. He hasn't got any manners. Who brought him here? How'd he come to come, in the first place?"
"Mr. Fulkerson brung him, I believe," said the old woman, patiently.
"Fulkerson!" Dryfoos snorted. "Where's Mrs. Mandel, I should like to know? He brought her, too. Does she go traipsin' off this way every evening?"
"No, she seems to be here pretty regular most o' the time. I don't know how we could ever git along without her, Jacob; she seems to know just what to do, and the girls would be ten times as outbreakin' without her. I hope you ain't thinkin' o' turnin' her off, Jacob?"
Dryfoos did not think it necessary to answer such a question. "It's all Fulkerson, Fulkerson, Fulkerson. It seems to me that Fulkerson about runs this family. He brought Mrs. Mandel, and he brought that Beaton, and he brought that Boston fellow! I guess I give him a dose, though; and I'll learn Fulkerson that he can't have everything his own way. I don't want anybody to help me spend my money. I made it, and I can manage it. I guess Mr. Fulkerson can bear a little watching now. He's been travelling pretty free, and he's got the notion he's driving, maybe. I'm a-going to look after that book a little myself."
"You'll kill yourself, Jacob," said his wife, "tryin' to do so many things. And what is it all fur? I don't see as we're better off, any, for all the money. It's just as much care as it used to be when we was all there on the farm together. I wisht we could go back, Ja—"
"We can't go back!" shouted the old man, fiercely. "There's no farm any more to go back to. The fields is full of gas-wells and oil-wells and hell-holes generally; the house is tore down, and the barn's goin'—"
"The barn!" gasped the old woman. "Oh, my!"
"If I was to give all I'm worth this minute, we couldn't go back to the farm, any more than them girls in there could go back and be little children. I don't say we're any better off, for the money. I've got more of it now than I ever had; and there's no end to the luck; it pours in. But I feel like I was tied hand and foot. I don't know which way to move; I don't know what's best to do about anything. The money don't seem to buy anything but more and more care and trouble. We got a big house that we ain't at home in; and we got a lot of hired girls round under our feet that hinder and don't help. Our children don't mind us, and we got no friends or neighbors. But it had to be. I couldn't help but sell the farm, and we can't go back to it, for it ain't there. So don't you say anything more about it, 'Liz'beth."
"Pore Jacob!" said his wife. "Well, I woon't, dear."
It was clear to Beaton that Dryfoos distrusted him; and the fact heightened his pleasure in Christine's liking for him. He was as sure of this as he was of the other, though he was not so sure of any reason for his pleasure in it. She had her charm; the charm of wildness to which a certain wildness in himself responded; and there were times when his fancy contrived a common future for them, which would have a prosperity forced from the old fellow's love of the girl. Beaton liked the idea of this compulsion better than he liked the idea of the money; there was something a little repulsive in that; he imagined himself rejecting it; he almost wished he was enough in love with the girl to marry her without it; that would be fine. He was taken with her in a certain' measure, in a certain way; the question was in what measure, in what way.
It was partly to escape from this question that he hurried down-town, and decided to spend with the Leightons the hour remaining on his hands before it was time to go to the reception for which he was dressed. It seemed to him important that he should see Alma Leighton. After all, it was her charm that was most abiding with him; perhaps it was to be final. He found himself very happy in his present relations with her. She had dropped that barrier of pretences and ironical surprise. It seemed to him that they had gone back to the old ground of common artistic interest which he had found so pleasant the summer before. Apparently she and her mother had both forgiven his neglect of them in the first months of their stay in New York; he was sure that Mrs. Leighton liked him as well as ever, and, if there was still something a little provisional in Alma's manner at times, it was something that piqued more than it discouraged; it made him curious, not anxious.
He found the young ladies with Fulkerson when he rang. He seemed to be amusing them both, and they were both amused beyond the merit of so small a pleasantry, Beaton thought, when Fulkerson said: "Introduce myself, Mr. Beaton: Mr. Fulkerson of 'Every Other Week.' Think I've met you at our place." The girls laughed, and Alma explained that her mother was not very well, and would be sorry not to see him. Then she turned, as he felt, perversely, and went on talking with Fulkerson and left him to Miss Woodburn.
She finally recognized his disappointment: "Ah don't often get a chance at you, Mr. Beaton, and Ah'm just goin' to toak yo' to death. Yo' have been Soath yo'self, and yo' know ho' we do toak."
"I've survived to say yes," Beaton admitted.
"Oh, now, do you think we toak so much mo' than you do in the No'th?" the young lady deprecated.
"I don't know. I only know you can't talk too much for me. I should like to hear you say Soath and house and about for the rest of my life."
"That's what Ah call raght personal, Mr. Beaton. Now Ah'm goin' to be personal, too." Miss Woodburn flung out over her lap the square of cloth she was embroidering, and asked him: "Don't you think that's beautiful? Now, as an awtust—a great awtust?"
"As a great awtust, yes," said Beaton, mimicking her accent. "If I were less than great I might have something to say about the arrangement of colors. You're as bold and original as Nature."
"Really? Oh, now, do tell me yo' favo'ite colo', Mr. Beaton."
"My favorite color? Bless my soul, why should I prefer any? Is blue good, or red wicked? Do people have favorite colors?" Beaton found himself suddenly interested.
"Of co'se they do," answered the girl. "Don't awtusts?"
"I never heard of one that had—consciously."
"Is it possible? I supposed they all had. Now mah favo'ite colo' is gawnet. Don't you think it's a pretty colo'?"
"It depends upon how it's used. Do you mean in neckties?" Beaton stole a glance at the one Fulkerson was wearing.
Miss Woodburn laughed with her face bowed upon her wrist. "Ah do think you gentlemen in the No'th awe ten tahms as lahvely as the ladies."
"Strange," said Beaton. "In the South—Soath, excuse me! I made the observation that the ladies were ten times as lively as the gentlemen. What is that you're working?"
"This?" Miss Woodburn gave it another flirt, and looked at it with a glance of dawning recognition. "Oh, this is a table-covah. Wouldn't you lahke to see where it's to go?"
"Well, if you'll be raght good I'll let yo' give me some professional advass about putting something in the co'ners or not, when you have seen it on the table."
She rose and led the way into the other room. Beaton knew she wanted to talk with him about something else; but he waited patiently to let her play her comedy out. She spread the cover on the table, and he advised her, as he saw she wished, against putting anything in the corners; just run a line of her stitch around the edge, he said.
"Mr. Fulkerson and Ah, why, we've been having a regular faght aboat it," she commented. "But we both agreed, fahnally, to leave it to you; Mr. Fulkerson said you'd be sure to be raght. Ah'm so glad you took mah sahde. But he's a great admahrer of yours, Mr. Beaton," she concluded, demurely, suggestively.
"Is he? Well, I'm a great admirer of Fulkerson," said Beaton, with a capricious willingness to humor her wish to talk about Fulkerson. "He's a capital fellow; generous, magnanimous, with quite an ideal of friendship and an eye single to the main chance all the time. He would advertise 'Every Other Week' on his family vault."
Miss Woodburn laughed, and said she should tell him what Beaton had said.
"Do. But he's used to defamation from me, and he'll think you're joking."
"Ah suppose," said Miss Woodburn, "that he's quahte the tahpe of a New York business man." She added, as if it followed logically, "He's so different from what I thought a New York business man would be."
"It's your Virginia tradition to despise business," said Beaton, rudely.
Miss Woodburn laughed again. "Despahse it? Mah goodness! we want to get into it and woak it fo' all it's wo'th,' as Mr. Fulkerson says. That tradition is all past. You don't know what the Soath is now. Ah suppose mah fathaw despahses business, but he's a tradition himself, as Ah tell him." Beaton would have enjoyed joining the young lady in anything she might be going to say in derogation of her father, but he restrained himself, and she went on more and more as if she wished to account for her father's habitual hauteur with Beaton, if not to excuse it. "Ah tell him he don't understand the rising generation. He was brought up in the old school, and he thinks we're all just lahke he was when he was young, with all those ahdeals of chivalry and family; but, mah goodness! it's money that cyoants no'adays in the Soath, just lahke it does everywhere else. Ah suppose, if we could have slavery back in the fawm mah fathaw thinks it could have been brought up to, when the commercial spirit wouldn't let it alone, it would be the best thing; but we can't have it back, and Ah tell him we had better have the commercial spirit as the next best thing."
Miss Woodburn went on, with sufficient loyalty and piety, to expose the difference of her own and her father's ideals, but with what Beaton thought less reference to his own unsympathetic attention than to a knowledge finally of the personnel and materiel of 'Every Other Week.' and Mr. Fulkerson's relation to the enterprise. "You most excuse my asking so many questions, Mr. Beaton. You know it's all mah doing that we awe heah in New York. Ah just told mah fathaw that if he was evah goin' to do anything with his wrahtings, he had got to come No'th, and Ah made him come. Ah believe he'd have stayed in the Soath all his lahfe. And now Mr. Fulkerson wants him to let his editor see some of his wrahtings, and Ah wanted to know something aboat the magazine. We awe a great deal excited aboat it in this hoase, you know, Mr. Beaton," she concluded, with a look that now transferred the interest from Fulkerson to Alma. She led the way back to the room where they were sitting, and went up to triumph over Fulkerson with Beaton's decision about the table- cover.
Alma was left with Beaton near the piano, and he began to talk about the Dryfooses as he sat down on the piano-stool. He said he had been giving Miss Dryfoos a lesson on the banjo; he had borrowed the banjo of Miss Vance. Then he struck the chord he had been trying to teach Christine, and played over the air he had sung.
"How do you like that?" he asked, whirling round.
"It seems rather a disrespectful little tune, somehow," said Alma, placidly.
Beaton rested his elbow on the corner of the piano and gazed dreamily at her. "Your perceptions are wonderful. It is disrespectful. I played it, up there, because I felt disrespectful to them."
"Do you claim that as a merit?"
"No, I state it as a fact. How can you respect such people?"
"You might respect yourself, then," said the girl. "Or perhaps that wouldn't be so easy, either."
"No, it wouldn't. I like to have you say these things to me," said Beaton, impartially.
"Well, I like to say them," Alma returned.
"They do me good."
"Oh, I don't know that that was my motive."
"There is no one like you—no one," said Beaton, as if apostrophizing her in her absence. "To come from that house, with its assertions of money— you can hear it chink; you can smell the foul old banknotes; it stifles you—into an atmosphere like this, is like coming into another world."
"Thank you," said Alma. "I'm glad there isn't that unpleasant odor here; but I wish there was a little more of the chinking."
"No, no! Don't say that!" he implored. "I like to think that there is one soul uncontaminated by the sense of money in this big, brutal, sordid city."
"You mean two," said Alma, with modesty. "But if you stifle at the Dryfooses', why do you go there?"
"Why do I go?" he mused. "Don't you believe in knowing all the natures, the types, you can? Those girls are a strange study: the young one is a simple, earthly creature, as common as an oat-field and the other a sort of sylvan life: fierce, flashing, feline—"
Alma burst out into a laugh. "What apt alliteration! And do they like being studied? I should think the sylvan life might—scratch."
"No," said Beaton, with melancholy absence, "it only-purrs."
The girl felt a rising indignation. "Well, then, Mr. Beaton, I should hope it would scratch, and bite, too. I think you've no business to go about studying people, as you do. It's abominable."
"Go on," said the young man. "That Puritan conscience of yours! It appeals to the old Covenanter strain in me—like a voice of pre- existence. Go on—"
"Oh, if I went on I should merely say it was not only abominable, but contemptible."
"You could be my guardian angel, Alma," said the young man, making his eyes more and more slumbrous and dreamy.
"Stuff! I hope I have a soul above buttons!"
He smiled, as she rose, and followed her across the room. "Good-night; Mr. Beaton," she said.
Miss Woodburn and Fulkerson came in from the other room. "What! You're not going, Beaton?"
"Yes; I'm going to a reception. I stopped in on my way."
"To kill time," Alma explained.
"Well," said Fulkerson, gallantly, "this is the last place I should like to do it. But I guess I'd better be going, too. It has sometimes occurred to me that there is such a thing as staying too late. But with Brother Beaton, here, just starting in for an evening's amusement, it does seem a little early yet. Can't you urge me to stay, somebody?"
The two girls laughed, and Miss Woodburn said:
"Mr. Beaton is such a butterfly of fashion! Ah wish Ah was on mah way to a pawty. Ah feel quahte envious."
"But he didn't say it to make you," Alma explained, with meek softness.
"Well, we can't all be swells. Where is your party, anyway, Beaton?" asked Fulkerson. "How do you manage to get your invitations to those things? I suppose a fellow has to keep hinting round pretty lively, Neigh?"
Beaton took these mockeries serenely, and shook hands with Miss Woodburn, with the effect of having already shaken hands with Alma. She stood with hers clasped behind her.
Beaton went away with the smile on his face which he had kept in listening to Fulkerson, and carried it with him to the reception. He believed that Alma was vexed with him for more personal reasons than she had implied; it flattered him that she should have resented what he told her of the Dryfooses. She had scolded him in their behalf apparently; but really because he had made her jealous by his interest, of whatever kind, in some one else. What followed, had followed naturally. Unless she had been quite a simpleton she could not have met his provisional love-making on any other terms; and the reason why Beaton chiefly liked Alma Leighton was that she was not a simpleton. Even up in the country, when she was overawed by his acquaintance, at first, she was not very deeply overawed, and at times she was not overawed at all. At such times she astonished him by taking his most solemn histrionics with flippant incredulity, and even burlesquing them. But he could see, all the same, that he had caught her fancy, and he admired the skill with which she punished his neglect when they met in New York. He had really come very near forgetting the Leightons; the intangible obligations of mutual kindness which hold some men so fast, hung loosely upon him; it would not have hurt him to break from them altogether; but when he recognized them at last, he found that it strengthened them indefinitely to have Alma ignore them so completely. If she had been sentimental, or softly reproachful, that would have been the end; he could not have stood it; he would have had to drop her. But when she met him on his own ground, and obliged him to be sentimental, the game was in her hands. Beaton laughed, now, when he thought of that, and he said to himself that the girl had grown immensely since she had come to New York; nothing seemed to have been lost upon her; she must have kept her eyes uncommonly wide open. He noticed that especially in their talks over her work; she had profited by everything she had seen and heard; she had all of Wetmore's ideas pat; it amused Beaton to see how she seized every useful word that he dropped, too, and turned him to technical account whenever she could. He liked that; she had a great deal of talent; there was no question of that; if she were a man there could be no question of her future. He began to construct a future for her; it included provision for himself, too; it was a common future, in which their lives and work were united.